Earth, Heat, Social Graces

I drove up to Santa Barbara this morning to attend a screening of Mike Cahill and Brit Marling‘s Another Earth, which opened on 7.22 to mostly positive reviews. I wrote on 7.19 that while “it’s partly a sci-fi fantasy about the approach of a second earth, it’s mainly about loss and recovery and redemption” and as such is one of the year’s most intriguing indies, particularly for its emotional, skillfully under-written quality.

At today’s lawn luncheon following 11 am Santa Barbara screening of Another Earth — (l. to r.) costar William Mapother, star-cowriter-co-producer Brit Marling, Santa Barbara Film Festival honcho Roger Durling, director-cowriter Mike Cahill.

The first thing I did when I slipped into the darkened Riviera Theatre during the 11 am showing was to take a nap. The floor was so hard it almost hurt to lie on my back but I went right out. I woke up for the q & a. Costar William Mapother, star-cowriter-coproducer Brit Marling and director-cowriter Mike Cahill kicked it around with Santa Barbara Film Festival director Roger Durling.

Then everyone went over to a nice outdoor garden party at a beautiful classic Spanish home, hosted by owners Marilyn Jorgenson and Errol Jahnke. Lots of nice food and not too many guests, and everyone in a nice mild mood. The back yard had fenced-in chickens and a dog who liked playing tug-of-war with a stick.

The sun was so hot that after an hour or so I began to slowly melt like the Wicked Witch of the West…”destroying my beautiful wickedness!” Plus I was wearing mostly black just like Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz so it all fit together. You don’t ever want to be standing in the hot sun with a slight wine buzz-on. It doesn’t feel right.

I spoke to Marling for a few minutes. I asked how many times she’d done the same dog-and-pony show with Cahill and Mapother since the Sundance debut six months ago. I wasn’t trying to trip her up by asking how bored she was getting from doing interviews, but simply how many times. Her answer — i.e., that she loves doing them and that today’s event was really special — told me she’s very political. Then she let her guard down and admitted there’s only one more to go…fine.

We spoke briefly about Nick Jarecki‘s Arbitrage, a financial chicanery drama in which she plays Richard Gere‘s daughter along with costars Eva Green and Susan Sarandon. It’s now being edited with a possibility of screening at Sundance 2012, Jarecki told me.

It’s very curious that Another Earth and Lars von Trier‘s Melancholia are so similar — both being about approaching planets getting closer and closer, but really about people with significant emotional and spiritual issues. And that these films were first seen at 2011 film festivals only four months apart. Cahill, Marling and Mapother all said they haven’t seen the Von Trier.

(l. to r.) Cahill, Marling and Durling during q & a at Riviera Theatre, which followed 11 am screening.
  • LexG

    I ultimately think the movie’s a little bad– Marling has a definite quality on-screen that I REALLY liked (and a REALLY sexy voice), and Mapother was in good form… But, my God, her little “hot girl searching for answers” screenplay just seems like the work of a chick who goes to psychic, gets her chart read, thinks India is really profound, and probably only eats soy. Bout the time the WISE INDIAN MAN tells her to “just empty your mind!”, it oughta be 32oz Guzzler-at-the-screen time for anyone who isn’t a pretentious college stoner.

    They also pretty clearly shot their wad on the four or five striking aqua-tinted shots of the sky and the oncoming planet in the background, because the production value of the rest of the movie is late-night Showtime level, all tired mumblecore camera work and bad, BAD acting from everyone but the two leads. It has some powerful moments and nice grace notes between Marling and Mapother, but it’s about as profound as something you’d expect from a pretty New Agey chick with a filmmaking (romantic? I don’t know) partner willing to indulge her every precious flight of fancy.

    Note to all beautiful women: There is NOTHING ELSE out there, so stop searching. No god, no stars, no answers. There’s this and then you die. Stop going to fucking psychics and mystics and thinking India is so goddamn interesting. It probably sucks there.

    I like how Jeff works in the “eh I showed up and late and slept on the floor during the movie” needling right off the bat here like that’s no big thing, or not at all annoying to everybody who saw him do it.

  • dino velvet

    Other than maybe a toilet, is there a more disgusting public place to sleep than a movie theater floor?

  • BobbyLupo

    dino – Indoors? Probably only bus/train stations.

    I hope Jeff had a sign taped on him, “It’s okay, I already saw it.”

  • George Prager

    LexG, the reason hot chicks go for that new age/India shit is because the hucksters taking their money aren’t interested in sleeping with them. They are there to guide said hot chick through her journey of self-actualization. They are not interested in banging her at all. Not one bit. Nada. And the hot chick knows this. She might as well weigh 300 pounds.

  • Abraham

    I hope Jeff’s logo on his record, “Never mind, I have seen.”

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    A lot of Lex’s beliefs are fucking crazy, but here? Yeah, it really irritates me how people, especially impressionable young woman, are drawn to nonsensical New Age-y claptrap. I couldn’t care less if there’s a beyond, if anything happens after we die, if there’s a rhyme or reason to the universe, and I hope to someday meet a girl that feels the same way. That life is for living, not for going on a spirit journey or whatever.

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